The Greater Prairie Chicken, scientifically known as Tympanuchus cupido, is a type of large grouse. This bird species can be found on the tall grass planes of central North America. The bird is non migratory and requires large areas of undisturbed grasslands for nesting and overwintering. Its range in Canada at first expanded greatly with the settlement of Europeans but with due course of time it contracted markedly. In the early 1800’s, the bird was first found on southwestern Ontario grasslands, expanding to the east and north. Then it declined and completely disappeared in the 1920’s. The bird also invaded the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the 1880’s, and now none is spotted.
As per appearance is concerned, the Greater Prairie Chicken is typically brown in color with the presence of light and dark barring. This bird has a short rounded tail. The chicken is popular for its mating dance, which can be viewed in these grouses. Dancing together communally, the males raise ear-like feathers above their heads; inflate orange sacs on the sides of their throats, and stutter-step around while making a deep hooting moan. Once the mating has taken place, the female moves about one mile from the booming grounds and begins to build their nests. These Hens lay between 5 and 17 eggs per clutch, which take between 23 and 24 days to hatch. One can find five and 10 young per brood.
Major threat to these prairie-chickens comes in the form of spring rains, which can wreak havoc on their chicks. Another major natural threat is drought. Human interactions, by far, is considered as the greatest threat. It was found in a radio telemetry study conducted by Kansas State University that “most prairie-chicken hens avoided nesting or rearing their broods within a quarter-mile of power lines and within a third-mile of improved roads.”